A one-night-stand with an open mic night on Halloween birthed the local band Motley Crouton over 13 years ago.

“Honestly, it started as a joke,” said Eric Marullo, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the group, which will play a New Year's Eve set in Auburn this weekend.

“There was an open mic night at the old bar Spirits, and a bunch of friends, who just played music in different bands, we called each other and ... decided to dress up in '80s clothes, and play '80s songs and we did it, and next thing you know, five different bars wanted to book us as shows. So we said 'hey, maybe we should just keep going with it',” Marullo said.

“The guys that were in the band had never played all together as one group,” Marullo said. “We thought it was a joke, and we were going to have fun and that was it, and here we are years later and still doing it.”

The band's members have shuffled a bit over the years, but it is currently comprised of three of the original members from that first night: Marullo, Jason Carnicelli on guitar and Chris Carnicelli on base, joined by John Westmiller on drums.

“At practice half the time I can't even sing because I'm laughing,” Marullo said of the close-knit band. The Carnicellis are cousins who “grew up playing and practicing together,” Marullo said. As for the drummer: “He and I played in a band together when we were 13 years old.”

This will not be the band's first New Year's Eve show, and far from the first for Marullo, who is also in two other bands. “I've played honestly almost every New Years Eve. ... I've played 17-18 years straight,” Marullo said.

Although every show is different, Marullo commented that crowds on the final night of the calendar year can be unique, “more celebrating, more hopefulness, they're more open-minded that night.”

Most of the songs to be played by Motley Crouton, who chose their name to stay true to the '80s “but pick on it at the same time,” will be akin to their typical sets, which Marullo described as “literally all '80s hairband covers.” Marullo said they'll “probably play Auld Lang Syne” for the sentimental ones out there, “but that's about it.”

Whiskey Boot's selected Motley Crouton because “they are probably the best local band in the area,” co-owner Dan Coe said. “They have a great local following.” Motley Crouton's past shows at Whiskey Boots have been very successful, Coe added, describing Marullo as “very energetic on stage.”

Motley Crouton keeps their performances steady, playing at least one show a month, and aiming to play in the Auburn area roughly once every two or three months. “We're already booked through September of next year,” Marullo said.

You will have to catch a show in person if you want to experience the accidental '80s cover band, because they don't have any records. “There's no reason to record it, because they already did it, and we can't go back in time and write our own '80s album.”

Marullo said he's hoping that the New Year's Eve show becomes his favorite Motley Crouton performance.

Staff Writer Megan Ehrhart can be reached at 315-282-2244 or megan.ehrhart@lee.net or on Twitter @MeganEhrhart.

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